Crozet Music Festival, the third at the lovely Misty Mountain Campgrounds just outside of Crozet, Virginia. Biff Rossberg and John Updike have done a great job of organizing a festival with a diverse line up of Virginia based musicians, in a beautiful setting, and an overall good vibe. This year I was able to set the camper up right behind the stage (thanks John!) and enjoy the music up close and personal.
I arrived late Friday afternoon and listened to Jackass Flats while I set up the camper. They're a high energy bluegrass/Americana band from the Richmond area and I would definitely like to see them again. They were followed by what turned out to be the highlight of the weekend for me, the Skip Castro Band. They were a fixture in the Virginia/DC bar band circuit in the late 70's and early 80's. After breaking up in the mid-80's they are now reunited, have released a new CD "Boogie at Midnight", and are still rocking with the same enthusiasm and energy that kept us dancing in the bars and frat houses back in the day. They play a great mix of rock, rock-a-billy, and other blues/boogie/swing tunes. For me they are very reminiscent of NRBQ, who is still the greatest bar band in the world. At the Crozet Music Festival Danny Beirne came out from behind the keyboards to deliver a killer version of James Brown's "It's a Man's World". And they finished with a really nice "Jumping Jack Flash" holding their guitars out for the audience to strum during the big rock finish last note.
Saturday I started the day at the indoor stage, which is set up in Misty Mountains' recreation room. This is a nice diversion from the outdoor main stage, providing a place to sit down inside and still here some very tasty tuneage. Saturday began with the Misty Strings from Charlottesville and they had a very good guitar player (sorry that I didn't get his name). They were followed by another Charlottesville band called Second Draw who played some nice bluegrass/jam tunes.
Then I took a break from the music and checked out some of the tasty food and beverage selections from the vendors at the festival and settled in for one of the "must sees" on the line up - William Walter & Co. I had remarked to a friend before they started that William Walter just doesn't stand on stage and play music, he always gets involved with the audience and is a great entertainer. And this show was no different. By the end of his set he had come off the stage and pulled all of the "pretty girls" from the crowd back up on the stage to dance with him. It was a great set from a very entertaining performer.
One of the things that sets this festival apart from other festivals is the big diversity in musical styles and all of the different kinds of music that you can hear in one weekend. Besides the acts mentioned above, I heard some beautiful acoustic jazz from the Ric Olivarez Trio, some great jazz/funk (including some nice Steely Dan covers) from Funk 45, and a cool world beat sound from the Rock River Gypsies (who were formed at my alma mater William and Mary). I also heard a 16 year old kid (Nick Pollock) do some great classic songs that were classic way before he was born. The only challenge at the Crozet Music Festival is how to hear all of the music, any time you take a break you feel like you're missing something you don't want to miss (and you're probably right).
Every year this festival gets better and better, I don't know how they pick a weekend in October every year that has beautiful weather, but mark your calendar for next year - it's guaranteed to be a great weekend.